Cuban jazz favourite makes return visit

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A favourite from Trippet Lane days, virtuoso violinist Omar Puente makes a return visit to Cubana in Leopold Square this Thursday, November 13.

The man from Santiago de Cuba will be joined by fellow Cubans Jesus Moreau Batallan on keyboards and Kike Gilberto on percussion and lead vocals and the trio will play a set of authentic Cuban Son, salsa, cha cha cha, beleros and more.

Puente lives in Bradford with his wife, right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy. They met 15 years ago in Singapore when music journalist Purdy was assigned to interview the visiting Cuban musician and they fell in love.

But after a while she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and decided in 1997 she should return to the UK. Omar agreed to follow her.

Puente, who started out as first violinist for the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, has played with some of Cuba’s greatest salsa musicians and since moving to the UK has been a regular band member for jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine who produced Puente’s debut solo album, From There to Here.

In addition to performing, Omar has written a piece for a ballet by Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta and teaches in Leeds and London.

He has also appeared with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, the Simon Bolivar Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, with Nigel Kennedy at 606 Jazz Club, with members of the Buena Vista Social Club. He played with Dennis Rollins on a work for Ensemble 360 played at Doncaster Minster in 2006.